ImageNation Cinema Foundation is a Harlem-based media arts organization, founded with the goal of establishing a chain of art-house cinemas, dedicated to progressive media by and about people of color. Through a variety of public exhibitions and programs, ImageNation fosters media equity, media literacy, solidarity, cross-cultural exchange and highlights the humanity of Pan-African people worldwide.
ImageNation uses independent film and progressive music to address the social concerns of Black people worldwide. Previous programs have addressed topics such as HIV/AIDS in South Africa, police brutality in the USA and Yoruba religious worship in Brazil. Imagenation hosts its events at low or no cost in communities of color. Since its inception in 1997, Imagenation has hosted events for nearly 40,000 people, often drawing capacity crowds.
ImageNation places special emphasis on soul cinema (movies that explore history, social issues, and highlight marginalized communities) directed by people of color, in the genres of drama, science fiction, animation, comedy and documentary. Our viewers thirst for more complex, realistic and imaginative portrayals of themselves. ImageNation quenches that thirst. We edify our viewers’ imaginations and galvanize their spirits with cinema, Soul Cinema.
The stomping ground for independent giants, ImageNation officially premiered Charles Stone’s TRUE (the basis for the Budweiser Whassup! Commercials), Caran Hartsfield’s KISS IT UP TO GOD which in the same year went on to win at the 2001 Cannes International Film Festival. We also featured MORNINGSIDE PREP by Malcolm D. Lee, director of THE BEST MAN, and SNAPPED by actress and director Joie Lee and THE MURDER OF EMMETT TILL by Stanley Nelson and LUMUMBA by Raoul Peck, to name a few.
ImageNation features the nation’s hottest emerging artists. For example,India.Arie, kicked off our 2001 season, a week before her debut album went gold. We also featured Rawkus Records’ Talib Kweli, MCA’s The JAZZYFATNASTEES, Gee Street Records’ OLU as well as other underground giants like: muMs from HBO’s Oz, Saul Williams, Jessica Care Moore, Greg Tate, and Sarah Jones to name a few. Our cutting-edge events have attracted well-known celebrities like: Melvin Van Peebles, Iman, David Bowie, Mekhi Phifer, Vondie Curtis Hall, Edwigde Dandicat, Phyllis Yvonne Stickney, Raoul Peck and others.
ImageNation also launched the first Revolution Awards at The Apollo Theater which honored Chuck D, Erykah Badu, Stanley Nelson, Roger Guenveur Smith, Talib Kweli, Sherry Simpson Dean and Joe Brewster.